Fat Joe, Diddy, Jermaine Dupri, Snoop Dogg. No, we’re not talking about the hottest remix of 2004, but instead hip-hop’s latest social media saga, which took a new turn on September 17. The four stars were all present on Joe’s Instagram Live, which followed his Verzuz battle with Ja Rule on September 14.
Dupri, 48, was in attendance that night at Madison Square Garden, and issued a challenge to Diddy. “Somebody let Diddy know I’m at The Garden right now. And he gon’ need some training for me,” he wrote on Twitter, implying he wanted the two to compete in a Verzuz of their own.
The jab inspired Diddy, 51, to puff out his chest and respond, “Beloved you my n-gga, but your arms [are] too short to box with God!!! You [ain’t] got enough hits. I’ll smash you with just Biggie [and Mary J. Blige]. But I do have the upmost respect on you as a musical legend – [Dr.] Dre the only one can get in the ring [with] me.”
Diddy and Dupri occupy similarly hallowed ground, not just in their native scenes of New York and Atlanta, but in the hip-hop and R&B halls of fame overall, Diddy founded Bad Boy Records in 1993, signing artists like The Notorious B.I.G., Mase and Mary J. Blige, while also putting out his own hits like “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” “I’ll Be Missing You,” and “Shake Ya Tailfeather.” Dupri created the label So So Def the same year, and released albums by Da Brat, Jagged Edge, and Bow Wow. He was also a prolific producer, helping craft colossal records like Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together,” Monica’s “U Should’ve Known Better,” and Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna”—credit for classic albums like Usher’s Confessions and Mariah’s Emancipation of Mimi is largely attributed to him.
While Verzuz battles started as ways for artists to interact and compete with each other during quarantine, recent iterations have been much more high-profile events. Madison Square Garden has been the site of both the Fat Joe and Ja Rule battle, and the widely watched competition between The Lox and Dipset. The platform has highlighted the work of producers before, including Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, who co-created Verzuz, as well as Mannie Fresh vs. Scott Storch, Teddy Riley vs. Babyface, and Ryan Tedder vs. Benny Blanco.
Though Diddy and Dupri have plenty of collaborators in common, including JAY-Z, Ludacris, and Faith Evans, they’ve never worked together much. One of their few shared credits is on the remix to Dupri’s 2002 hit “Welcome to Atlanta.”
When Diddy accepted an invitation to join Fat Joe’s IG Live, he came in clearly revved up by the discourse, and, while highlighting his friendship with Dupri, made a point immediately of drawing a distinction between their respective bodies of work.
“First of all, I want the world to know that this is one of my best friends, one of my best inspirations, this is my brother, I love him,” Diddy said. “I’m gonna say this to everybody: You amnesia-having motherfuckers, I gave ya’ll life for 20 years of music. JD, Anything I touched, anything I breathed on, executive produced, anything I thought up, anything I fuckin’ did, whatever. You hear me? Don’t play with me, boy.”
Diddy then asked Dupri how he would respond to songs like The Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance” and “Warning.” He then once again barked out a challenge for Dr. Dre. We wound up getting a quick preview of what this superproducer battle might entail as Diddy goaded Dupri by playing songs like The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Victory” and “Hypnotize,” as well as his own “All About the Benjamins.” At the suggestion of Fat Joe and Snoop Dogg, he played a few of Dupri’s songs, too, such as “Jump” by Kriss Ross,” the “Welcome to Atlanta” remix, and JAY-Z’s “Money Ain’t a Thang.”
“I liked the rehearsal, I loved it,” retorted Dupri, who refused to play any of his songs on Instagram. “We’re at rehearsal with Bad Boy on *The Fat Joe Show…*By the way, if you don’t accept this shit, I’mma be standing outside of your house like the n-gaa did [Muhammad] Ali.”
Joe and Snoop also talked about their hesitancy to perform songs they had with R. Kelly during their Verzuz appearances against Ja Rule and DMX, respectively. “Everybody was like, ‘It’s music, Joe.’ I’m like, ‘Yo I just can’t do it. I can’t do it,’” Joe said. “It’s too touchy, it’s a slippery slope. Leave it alone,” Snoop added.
But the main focus of the conversation was on the possibility of Diddy and Dupri going head-to-head. The two titans of hip-hop and R&B would certainly provide the kind of nostalgic thrill Verzuz has become known for these last 18 months. Diddy is also poised to release his latest solo album, Off the Grid, Vol. 1, (which last had a release date of September 24, which he does not seem to be sticking to anymore) and he’s always been a master of self-promotion.
“This is the Lollapalooza, Super Bowl of Verzuz,” Fat Joe shouted at the idea of the prospective matchup.